11th: All Things Fair
As another movie not destined to be watched as a family movie, “All Things Fair” overflows with ideas, characters and subplots. This is a story about an affair between a high school student and his teacher. The events, feelings and interactions that make it up are just as real as the other things in this movie, yet the movie gives us only brief glimpses of this relationship, as the characters are stripped naked – mainly their souls, but also their bodies.
What does it take to create such a story?
Only a young man growing up at difficult times, who is merely beginning to discover the mysteries of body changes and all-consuming effects puberty. Stig (staring Johan Widerberg) is a 15-year-old boy who gets tangled up in a relationship that only makes his life more complicated.
He falls in love with his schoolteacher Viola (Marika Lagercrantz), who is 22 years his senior. To his great surprise, Viola confesses that she’s also attracted to him and the two become involved in a passionate love affair, which Viola makes little effort to disguise from her husband.
Eventually, Stig becomes attracted to a girl his own age, and when they become involved, he breaks off his affair with Viola, who was not eager to give him up, and in time, she retaliates with violence.
Do you find this plot too plain?
Allow yourself to be surprised then! All Things Fair is a strange kind of film because it is constantly transforming itself. While it remains a coming-of-age film, it also ranges in its focus, touching on many different expressions.
The actors are superb, the settings are atmospheric, and the era of the 1940s Sweden is perfectly represented. Widerberg makes it all work in a misty yet sensuous manner. He manages to create a story that embeds dramatic portrayal of various sides of human problems, relationships and emotions.
Performances are tops throughout. Johan Widerberg is at his best under his father’s guidance, not to mention, Lagercrantz , as Viola, proves herself to be one of Sweden’s most versatile actresses, and von Bromssen is excellent in a demeaning part. This is a movie that one cannot watch too many times in a lifetime.
10th: Dirty Teacher
We`ve heard of teachers who try to help you, while others just get into your way for some reason. But what probably never crossed our minds is being framed you for murder by one! Although this movie can be confused with Bad Teacher, make no mistake, this teacher is definitely different from Cameron Diaz`s.
High school is a time of making memories, coming of age and preparing for adulthood and somehow, being framed for murder by your English teacher doesn`t really fit on this list.
How did a killer become teacher?
That`s easier than you think. When a high school English literature teacher takes maternity leave, substitute Molly Matson (staring the stunningly attractive Josie Davis.) arrives to fill out the year.
The new teacher, who apparently had suffered a very traumatic childhood, develops an instant crush on Danny, an 18-year-old senior with affluent parents. She immediately begins seeing Danny (staring Cameron Deane Stewart) after school, texting him, asking him out to dinner, and then over to her house.
Jamie starts to suspect that Danny is cheating on her, so she follows him to Ms. Matson’s house, where she peeks through the back door and sees them. At first, she’s totally outraged, but then Danny apologizes and they plan to try working things out.
However, Danny makes the mistake of meeting Matson in an empty park in the middle of the night and breaking up with her. And as you imagine, this didn`t do him much good. The following day, Jamie is accused and put under house arrest.
I`ve heard many bad reviews. Why should I watch this?
The plot might sound like it`s been recycled one too many times, but it has certain elements that make the movie`s structure more interesting, for example, the focus on Danny as the conflicted protagonist, not Jamie. The story sticks to formula and all the players, including director Doug Campbell and his crew, essay their roles well.
9th: Daydream Nation
A city girl who moves to a small town and becomes entangled in a love triangle between her high school teacher and another classmate. This sounds a bit cliché but you will definitely be surprised at this weird, funny and strangely beautiful movie, wedged between the usual coming-of-age shenanigans.
Daydream Nation offers a harsh, satirical whiff of the end of the world as imagined by a teenager who has moved with her widowed father to a tiny town in the middle of nowhere from the big city.
The movie is all about Kat Dennings’ character (Caroline Wexler) and what it’s like to be a teen in a new town, at a new school, when it feels like the whole world is about to end at any moment.
Isn`t she overreacting a little?
That`s mostly for you to decide. The plot follows Caroline who moves to a small town. When she can’t relate to the locals who didn`t know her, she decides to re-invent herself, so she could become anyone she wanted to. The town she moved into isn`t really a piece of heaven.
In fact, it`s everything but ordinary, with an industrial fire that’s been burning for months, a serial killer wearing a white suit on the loose and the local townies mix whatever household chemicals they can just to catch a quick high.
So, what’s a girl with no identity to do? For starters, she seduces her teacher (Josh Lucas) and even covers it up by sleeping with one of the townie stoners (Thompson).
When the young boy starts to fall for Caroline, it makes things a little more complicated, but in the end it all weaves together into a wonderfully written story that is both fun and sad. The characters are all people we could relate to.
The plot doesn`t sound so great?
It might seem like the story is a bit farfetched, but Dennings`s performance just blows your mind away – even more so if you were expecting to see yet another cliché movie. She’s funny and witty, and the next thing you know she breaks your heart. There’s a lovely balance in this movie of humor and lyricism and incredible tension, making Dennings one unforgettable character.
Josh Lucas sneaks up on you with another original performance — he’s charming and despicable and hilarious. But the real surprise is Reece Thompson, whose performance as a high school kid muddling his way through grief and first love will pull a string in your heart.
If Daydream Nation wasn`t surprising enough in itself, you will also be surprised to find out it`s the debut movie of Goldbach as director, who is without a doubt a great talent for striking images and a steady hand at creating a mood. He knows how to move the camera with confidence and plant it with an even greater assurance, in order to make a simple story seem more complicated that it needs to be, an impression that’s harder to shake as the plot take a turn for the absurd towards the end.
8th: Die Welle (The Wave)
There is no trace of cheerfulness in this movie, as we have seen in other teacher-student related movies. In The Wave a high school teacher’s unusual experiment demonstrates to his students what life is like under a dictatorship, but his project spins horribly out of control when he forms a social unit with a life of its own. This is probably one of the few movies of this list whose purpose is to pass a valuable life lesson.
We`re all tired of life lessons!
This might be what you`re thinking but you should at least give this movie a chance to prove it`s worth. Based on an infamous 1967 teaching experiment in California conducted by Ron Jones, this didactic drama transplants the action to modern-day Germany, where Rainer (Jürgen Vogel), a high school teacher, is trying to convey the finer points of autocracy.
Die Welle is truly a brilliant tale that lures viewers into its cleverly developed plot just as Wenger lures his unsuspecting students into a challenge. When Wenger gets selected to teach a class on autocracy, he is upset at first. However, he soon comes up with a plan that will teach the students a valuable lesson on the sheer dangers of fascism and the ease with which one can be lured into it.
His class starts out as nonthreatening. The students are instructed to choose a leader, wear a uniform and create a name for themselves (Die Welle – “The Wave”). But, this club slowly turns into an isolated fascist regime. The unsuspecting students think they are participating in some sort of fun club, but in reality they are really being shown just how easily people can be attracted by autocracy.
This movie is not short in biting irony as, at the beginning of the class, Wenger brought up the subject of Hitler’s reign, and the students almost instinctively denied that Germany would ever fall into that trap again, given what they know now. However, they soon eat their words when they become members of a much less disturbing, yet frightening similar clique.
This movie sounds grim. Why should I watch it?
The Wave is a compelling allegorical thriller with a superb, shocking and powerful screenplay and direction. Its great acting makes you feel drawn into the action as the drama unfolds. Despite its initial slow pace that makes you hold your breath for more, it ends up with gathering momentum and dire consequences.
The way the different children reacted and how such a seemingly innocent experiment profoundly affected their lives was incredible and horrifying. Vogel gives a powerful performance as an idealistic teacher who isn’t aware of the influence he has on others.